In the classic film, the actors played Jonathan Trager and Sara Thomas, respectively, who ended up searching for one another over several years in New York City after they first met, fell in love and went their separate ways. Despite a heartbreaking parting, the pair remained convinced that their initial encounter was fated.
“As is often the case, there was a sort of central problem with the female character not necessarily being totally believable. So we had a lot of meetings about it: I didn’t want this character to be this kind of wispy fool, even though she was so interested in fate,” Beckinsale recalled of her acting process during an April 2020 interview with Vulture. “You can be like that without being this sort of ghastly supernatural person. … She’s a therapist. You don’t want her to be a bad, embarrassing therapist, but she’s also obsessed with the notion of serendipity and fate. So trying to marry those two things without making her a character who seems completely implausible. You can be a kind of whimsical, positive, open person who’s also intelligent.”
The England native fondly looked back on her Manhattan filming experience.
“And then suddenly there we were in August in New York, in scarves and overcoats, sweating to death and pretending to be ice-skating on what was actually linoleum, because it was too hot for ice,” she told the outlet at the time. “I remember being incredibly hot all of the time. A classic Christmas movie and we’re all pouring sweat.”
The Pearl Harbor actress is no stranger to reliving the sweet flick, even recreating its now-infamous elevator scene alongside a begrudging hotel employee.
“I knew I recognized the elevators in this hotel I was staying in,” she captioned an Instagram clip in September 2018, where she recited her wistful film dialogue. “This is where we shot Serendipity. Alas, I could not get my leading man to play ball this time @fairmontroyalyork.”
The film’s director, Peter Chelsom, also opened up about the filmmaking journey nearly twenty years after the movie’s release.
“We were making a film about a world that we hope might exist,” Chelsom told Insider in October 2021. “Yes, there’s no clock. Yes, you can’t see the stars. All that is absolutely right. But with it this way it transports you, you can escape more. … It’s the balance between the man and woman. They have mirror problems: marrying the so-called perfect partner and realizing they can’t. There were a lot of films in the early 2000s — and I said this back then — they were sexist. This idea of ‘frat boy behaves really badly, s—t hits the fan in act two, then all of act three is him apologizing to the beautiful blonde.’ That was the laziness of romantic comedies in the early 2000s and in some ways Serendipity was the apex.”
Scroll below to see what the Serendipity cast has been up to since the 2001 holiday rom-com premiered: